Goje: When the past haunts the present

Danjuma Goje

By Muhammad Lawan

Recent happenings in Gombe State, The Jewel in the Savannah, where a former governor of the state and Senator representing Gombe Central, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, was allegedly attacked when he visited the state, point to one glaring but ruinous fact: that people often reap what they sow. But make no mistake about it; this piece is not to gloat over what had happened, not at all. It is to put things in their right perspective and remind those that may have forgotten how and when this kind of unfortunate scenario crept into Gombe in the past and why it desperately wants to return now, albeit unsuccessfully.

Since the unfortunate event of Friday, November 5, 2021, a lot has been written about Goje’s antecedents, scheming and waggery, all of which are a bitter part of the history of Gombe State.

The period between May 29, 2003 and May 29, 2011 – eight straight years – when Goje reigned as governor of Gombe State, saw the introduction of deadly urchins, who were purely thugs, in the political landscape of our dear Gombe State. It was no longer news that the ‘Kalare’ boys were (and remain) the thuggery arm of the Goje political machinery. Matter-of-factly speaking, Goje allegedly used those thugs to crush any political Iroko that stood on his way to power, and that was how he bulldozed himself and became the governor of the state.

If anybody is in doubt as to what Goje used the ‘Kalare’ boys to achieve in Gombe during his reign of terror, a Google search of the word ‘Kalare’ will definitely provide a clear picture. There, one will see the origin and metamorphosis of the dreaded group and what Goje used it for.

Truth be told, Goje, it was, who schemed himself into what allegedly happened to him on November 5, and he should blame nobody for the fate that befell him. If he were a serious human being, rather than complain, he should find the most peaceful place in his abode and regurgitate his past with a view to making amends. The legacy he left in Gombe State is what no sane man born of a woman would want to leave behind.

I, like many others, was taken aback, when after the orchestra staged by Goje and his co-travelers, he could summon the courage to accuse a man that the Gombe people have come to know and associate with anything peaceful, Governor Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, of being the brain behind his self-inflicted ordeal.

When he observed that his bare-faced lies against Governor Yahaya were not gaining traction, he quickly turned to the governor’s security aides, the ADC and the Chief Security Officer, and accused them of personally attacking him. He did that through a petition he wrote to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the country’s police chief, IGP Baba Alkali, where he made sundry allegations against the young and promising security officers, all in a futile attempt to tarnish their professional career.

One thing with Goje is that he failed to understand that he has stopped being the governor of Gombe State for over a decade now, having left the stage on May 29, 2011. This same attitude of his, where he practically wants to lord himself over those that succeeded him in office as governor, was what made him severed his relationship with his former political godson, Ibrahim Dankwambo, who could not stomach the man’s excesses. What he could not get away with under Dankwambo is what he thinks, albeit myopically, he could get away with under Yahaya. There can’t be two governors in a state at a time! The sooner Goje realizes that, the better for him.

For those that may not know, what is at stake is the fact that Goje, at 69, an age that qualifies him as an elder, wants to swallow his vomit. On Sunday, December 8, 2019, less than six months into his third term in office as senator, Goje, during an event tagged ‘Goje Empowerment Programme’ held at the popular Pantami Stadium, Gombe, told the world that he would never contest for any political office in his life anymore.

On that day, Goje mesmerized his listeners by saying, “I have had the rare opportunity of contesting and winning the seven elections conducted by various National Electoral Commissions. In the Second Republic during the Shagari Government as a very young man, I contested and won election into the then Bauchi State House of Assembly. In 1998, I also contested and won election as a Senator for Gombe Central Senatorial District under the defunct UNCP during the Abacha Regime. I then in 2003 contested and won the Governorship election for Gombe State. I was re-elected in 2007.In 2011, 2015 and 2019, I contested and won the three elections for the Gombe Central Senatorial District.

“Therefore, having contested and won all the seven elections in addition to being a Minister for the country, | strongly believe that Allah (SWT) has been extremely kind to me. i believe not many Nigerians have been so lucky and blessed. Alhammdulillah sai Shukra.

“It is in the light of the foregoing and having reached an advanced age, I wish to formally inform you that I have decided not to contest any other election again. For the avoidance of doubt, I will not contest any election at all levels.

“I believe that I need to give the younger ones the opportunity to also grow and showcase their Godgiven talent especially in this digital age.”

He then promised to “continue to be an active card-carrying member of the APC and participate in all political activities at all levels except that I will not contest any election.”

However, Goje is by every action ready to backtrack on that pledge he made when no one placed a gun on his head so to do. And that is what has made him to go berserk searching for how to manipulate his way to recontest his Senate seat in 2023. For a supposed ‘Dattijo,’ the Hausa word for an elderly person, who boastfully told a crowd that he would be out of the stage, to now come and play pranks on the same people, is, to put it mildly, utterly deceptive and shameful.

In his latest fusillade, Goje alleged that he was attacked unprovoked by thugs. Really? Is it the same Goje that once terrorised the political space in Gombe that is now crying foul? Indeed, wonders, they say, shall never end.

But I was glad when I came across an advertorial on some national dailies by the Gombe State Government and signed by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Julius Ishaya, who rightly placed Goje where he belongs.

Chronicling Goje’s sordid past, which remains the same till date, Mr. Ishaya said: “As a government, we are compelled to let the public have a retrospective look at some of his antecedents when he served as governor of Gombe State. The records speak for themselves! Many individuals, highly respected elders, traditional and religious leaders, business and political class, including the elites who at one time or the other were openly humiliated, harassed, witch-hunted, arrested, imprisoned or even forced to go on exile are alive and in a good position to bear testimony to Goje’s reign of terror between 2003 and 2011. No doubt, it was Danjuma Goje that invented the widely known killing machine – the dreaded Kalare. This heartless group was used to unleash terror on innocent souls during political campaigns and throughout his tenure. Some of his close Kalare thugs are serving life sentences in the prison for the atrocities they committed during his tenure.

“True to his usual characteristic of violence, the then governor Goje instructed the invasion of the house of one the founding fathers of Gombe State, Dr Sulaiman Kumo (of blessed memory) who at the time was in company of some respected elders. They were teargassed and harassed by a combined team of Goje’s personal security and kalare thugs. History will never forget when Goje ordered for the arrest of his predecessor in office, Abubakar Habu Hashidu in broad day light. The late Hashidu was arrested on trumped up charges, brought to court and was earmarked for imprisonment. The same Danjuma Goje also deployed his kalare thugs to launch several assassination attempts on the late Muhammadu Ibrahim Hassan (Baraden Gombe). In another condemnable act, Goje detailed his kalare thugs to humiliate and assassinate the then serving minister of special duties, Col. Musa Mohammed (Rtd) at the palace of the emir of Nafada in December 2005.

“Further references of Senator Goje’s violent tendencies and flagrant abuse of power also include:

1. “Minister accuses Governor Goje of Plot to kill him” (onlinenigeria.com 2nd January, 2006)
2. “Minister accuses Governor Goje of Plot to kill him” (The Nation, 1st January 2006)
3. “Goje’s ADC halts aircraft take-off to arrest a politician” (see Leadership newspaper of 5th April 2011, page 14)
4. “Goje’s ADC detained aircraft by three hours” (see People’s Daily 5th April 2011, page 3.)
5. “Goje’s name synonymous with Kalare” written by Aliyu Hammagam, Daily Trust Gombe correspondent (26th June 2011, page 14)
6. “Goje Arrives his hated station” by Malam Garba Shehu (People’s Daily, back page comment Wednesday 26th October 2011).”

Going by all that has been said, Goje’s case is a classical example of when the past haunts the present.